Friday, November 27, 2009

Favorite Children's Book Recommendations: Age 12-24 months

Yesterday we shared favorite children's book recommendations for ages 0-12 months.  Can we really manage to pick out only 15 books from ages 12-24 months?  It seems like the bibliophile's interest in books exploded during that time.  (My first attempt at this list was 30 books long).  Here are the standout favorites he read during 12-24 months.  Many of these would be great choices for older kids too, as he shows no signs of having "outgrown" them by any means:

1.  A Lion in the Meadow (Picture Puffin) (Paperback), by Margaret Mahy. This book came all the way from New Zealand to join our book collection. Although it arrived at a time when he mostly only liked board books, he took to this one right away. It is a lovely little story about a boy who sees a lion in the meadow by his house. He alerts his mother, who gently scolds him for making up stories and plays along with him by giving him a matchbox which she says will release a dragon. He obeys, releasing a large dragon into the meadow, which frightens the lion into the house, where they become buddies.


""'That is how it is,' said the lion. 'Some stories are true, and some aren't...'"

Bookworm's interest at 17 months: He loves to locate the baby in the book and wave his arms frantically practicing his sign language for it. But he also enjoys the whole story. He also likes to make an "H" sound for "hot" when he sees the dragon breathing fire.

2. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Board book), by Eric Carle. This board book version of the modern classic features a host of brightly colored animals and sing-songy repetition as each animal in turn is asked and answers about what the animal sees (the next animal in the story).


"Blue Horse, Blue Horse, What do you see?/ I see a green frog looking at me."

Bookworm's interest at 12 months: When he was only a few months old and his eye sight still developing, this was the first book that the bookworm seemed to focus on (the black and white page with the dog) He enjoyed it more as he got older.

Parent's Peeve: The drawing of the teacher is not very attractive.

Note: for children who have and love Brown Bear, Brown Bear, consider Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?.

3. Bubble Bath Pirates (Hardcover), by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. He pulled this off of the shelf at the library, out of the bigger kids' section. It was larger than the books he normally reads, and not a board book. I have a sneaking suspicion he just wanted to throw it on the floor. But once he got it home, he loved it. He can follow what's happening in the story, which involves a fun-spirited mother giving her boys a pirate-themed bath (full of pirate speak like "all hands on deck," "blimey!," and "shiver me timbers"). The pirate lingo is cute, the bath theme is one he can identify with, and the illustrations are large and colorful, somehow capturing and keeping his attention better than other non-board books. I think we may need to get our own copy soon. "Arrr, this be a great book."

Bookworm's interest at 13 months: He especially likes to point to the "Pirate Mommy" and say "mamama" and to find the rubber duck on every page.

4.  Cars and Trucks and Things That Go (Giant Little Golden Book) (Hardcover), by Richard Scarry. 69 pages full of Richard Scarry's trademark illustrations and madcap adventures involving all sorts of vehicles piloted by pigs, bunny rabbits, foxes, dogs, cats, and turtles (among others). Those who love Richard Scarry's other books won't be disappointed, and those just discovering his work will quickly come to appreciate his silly, busy style.


"The baggage compartment on the bus has come open. Someone's things are flying out! Duck, Pa! Duck, Ma! Oh dear, Ma didn't duck soon enough."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He loves all of Scarry's books, and this one is no exception. He likes to have the text read to him, or to be quizzed on finding particular objects. The illustrations are so full of detail that he is constantly learning new vocabulary from perusing the book with me.

(Really many Richard Scarry books would make this list for us; others we love are:

5.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition (Hardcover), by Jr, Bill Martin. I had never heard of this book until recently, and since then I seem to hear reference to it everywhere. The story is set to a song starring the letters of the alphabet climbing up a coconut tree. If you need to know the tune (I admit I did!), there is a fun, animated YouTube video (just search by the book's title). We took it out of the library to test it out, and we'll be getting our own copy this week.


"'Whee!' said D to E, F, G, 'I'll beat you to the top of the coconut tree.' Chicka chicka boom boom! Will there be enough room? Here comes H up the coconut tree..."

Bookworm's interest at 15 months: He especially likes the phrase "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and calls "buh! buh!" when he picks out the book. He generally loses interest in the large version right where the board book would end. I'm debating whether that means we should get the full or board book version, but I think we'll go with the full one because we can always close the book now, and he'll grow into the whole thing eventually.

6.  Construction Countdown (Hardcover), by K.C. Olson. Apparently I have some learning to do about construction vehicles. I thought knowing what a "digger" and "cherry picker" were would be sufficient, but our little guy's growing affection for transportation vehicles leads me to believe some advance knowledge on my part may be required. But that's OK, because there are plenty of books (like this one) to teach me what earthmovers and payloaders look like. This is a great book, with simple rhyming text to describe each two-page spread of vehicles. The ending is particularly delightful.


"Ten mighty dump trucks rolling down the road"

Bookworm's interest at 16 months: He enjoyed this one quite a bit from the first read (and the second, and the third...). A repeat read is the ultimate compliment, right? He likes to point to the trucks while I count them, or to make me point to them, or to point to the people driving the trucks. The cement mixers seem to be his favorite, maybe because we occasionally see them drive by outside.

7. Counting Colors: Seek & Find (Hardcover), by Roger Priddy. This has been a favorite since Christmas (approximately age one). Each two-page spread features a certain color, and little readers can search for the items, like balls, ducks, santas, and gingerbread men. It has been great at building vocabulary and passing winter hours stuck inside. We love this book.

Bookworm's interest at 13 months: At first there were a handful of items he enjoyed finding, but in the span of a month or two, he became familiar with almost all of them and loves pointing at them when we call them out. Since he developed his "siren noise," the fire engines are probably his favorite.

8. Farm Animal Friends: A Mega Sticker Book (Paperback), by Siobhan Ciminera. This is possibly my favorite sticker book so far, for a few reasons. It contains more than 750 stickers, mostly of farm animals (but also flowers and Easter egg decorating designs). What I prefer in this book over other, similar, books is that the pages with the stickers instruct you to the set of pages that the stickers should be placed upon (like, "use these stickers on pages 28-29"). It saves a lot of useless flipping. Also, the variety of activities are great. Some pages just include a scene (like an open field and barn) on which the stickers should be placed, but others focus on color placement (bright flowers to be placed on a rainbow by color), numbers, matching stickers to outlines, matching pairs of animals, and identifying animal sounds. I think this would make the book appealing to a wide range of ages. There is, however, far less informational text (none really) than the "Things that go" sticker book, for instance.


"Clip! Clop! Clip! Clop! The horses are on the move. Add the horse stickers to the pasture scene."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He has really been enjoying this. We sat outside in the shade on a glider and used it for 1/2 hour straight this evening (stopping only because Daddy came home), and then he brought it to me a few more times later before bed. At first, he was interested in the cats, horses, and cows - just placing them on there appropriate pages. Then he started the counting activities, with a lot of help (he can count to 3). Tonight, he enjoyed the rainbow color pages.

Another favorite sticker book: 

9. Goodnight Moon (Hardcover), by Margaret Wise Brown. I must be one of the only people that doesn't remember reading this classic tale about bedtime as a child. Still, I've heard it mentioned enough that I went hunting for it. The board book wasn't available, so we settled for the full sized version (which I'm glad about really). On the opening page, a bunny lays in bed in a "great green room," filled with objects that the reader bids goodnight, page by page. At first, I was disappointed that he wouldn't look at it. But after a few days, it made a fast recovery, aided by the appeal of a red balloon. Now I'm contemplating buying a copy for our collection. Anything that encourages sleep is welcome around here!


"Goodnight light and the red balloon/ Goodnight bears/Goodnight chairs."

Bookworm's interest at 14 months: He likes locating many of the items, including the red balloon, kittens, and mittens. Eventually, he realized that the balloon inexplicably disappears in a couple of the illustrations, and this bugs him.

10. In the Town All Year 'Round (Hardcover), by Rotraut Susanne Berner. I had high expectations of this book after reading a very positive review of it, and it did not disappoint. It is very Richard Scarry-esque, but without the picture labels (except on certain pages) and no pretend vehicles like pickle cars. Like Scarry's word books, these pages are chock full of fun images, and the illustrations are beautifully detailed. The people (many of whom appear to don subtle ethnic dress, unless it's my imagination) are engaged in normal (shopping, a parade) to slightly wacky (taking a bath in a tin tub outdoors) activities. We really enjoyed this one and will probably pick up a copy for our personal collection.

Bookworm's interest at 15 months: Not only did the bookworm happily read this in his stroller at the library (where he is always too overstimulated to sit through a book), but when we got home, he reached under the stroller to pull it out and start in on it again. A blue bus makes a repeat appearance on the first few pages, so that drew him in, but he also find many other favorite images, like balloons, cars, birds, and farm animals. There is so much going on on every page that I can tell his interest will be constant as he learns to recognize more of the objects.

Parent's Peeve: People are smoking here and there (not very noticeable, given the amazing detail in the illustrations). I mention it because we hate smoking, but we still bought our own copy and recommend it to everyone.

11. I Spy A To Z (Hardcover), by Jean Marzollo. Real photographs of objects, from toy cars and trains to paperclips and crayons, fill the pages of this book. Text at the bottom of each page highlights four items for the reader to locate, in the typical "I Spy" language. There is a loose alphabetical order to the items, with every page or two focusing on a new letter, which is highlighted in red in the text. This is our first I Spy book, and we had a great time with it. For the most part, I ignored the text at the bottom and just asked our little guy to find whatever items I thought he would recognize, or new words I wanted to teach him.


"I spy a baseball, a marble that's blue, a bucket of sand, and a block with a 2."

Bookworm's interest at 20 months: He has a blast with it! He always loves being "quizzed," so I knew this book would be a big hit. I'm thinking we'll have to hunt down other I Spy books for him. I know he'll love them. I've put this I Spy Christmas bookon his Christmas list.

12.  Lemons Are Not Red (Hardcover), by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. This is a beautifully original book about colors. Cutouts in the pages play a key role in the flow of the text. "Lemons are not / red," the book says, as a red lemon adorns the page. As the reader turns the page, the left page explains that lemons are yellow, and the red page on the right (that had made the lemon appear red through the cutout) is now a large apple ("apples are red"). I don't know if I've explained that very well, but the design is effective, and the images simple but appealing.


"Flamingos are not / GRAY / Flamingos are PINK / Elephants are GRAY"

Bookworm's interest at 15 months: When I saw the book, I thought he'd be too young for it, but not so; he loved it right away. We generally do two or three reads in a row. I'm not sure he REALLY gets the concept at this point. He enjoys shaking his head whenever I say the word "not," and he has recently taken to signing for "apple" when he sees the image. There is a dog at the end of the book that he also loves to spot, sometimes skipping the whole middle of the book to get to the end to see the dog again, and sign for "sleep" as the dog lays down. I love this kind of book, that he gets some enjoyment out of now, but that he'll clearly grow into more as he is older too.

13. Let's Listen: Nursey Rhymes for Listening and Learning (Mother Goose) (Board book), by Studio Mouse. This book was a gift and an unexpected delight. For awhile, we listened to it every day, giving us a new activity to fill the long winter days. He will occasionally bounce up and down (his "dancing"), look longingly at the CD player, and start saying something along the lines of "Mmmm! A-dee! Neee!" until I put it on. Our three favorites are the first three songs - The Farmer in the Dell, Old King Cole, and Sing a Song of Sixpence. He is pretty good about reading the book at the same time, although near the end he'll start to just flip around. I enjoyed this one so much that I started pulling the CD's out of the other books we had that had come with music that we had just ignored. Most of them were awful, making me appreciate this one all the more. One caveat: every now and then, he will become terrified of the book and music and we'll have to put it away for awhile. Why? We'll have to wait until he can tell us.


Rhymes include: The Farmer in the Dell; Old King Cole; Sing a Song of Six Pence; Little Miss Muffet; Gingerbread Man; Hickory, Dickory, Dock; Little Bo Peep; Jack and Jill; Star Light, Star Bright; Mary Mary Quite Contrary; Hey Diddle Diddle; Rain Rain Go Away; and Yankee Doodle.

Bookworm's interest at 12 months: He especially likes the last line of Farmer in the can see him gearing up for it before it comes: "Hi-Ho, the derry-o/The farmer in the dellllllll." Always makes him smile.

Parent's Peeve: Animals as people. Old King Cole is a frog for instance. When he points to him I have to explain, "That's Old King Cole. And a Frog. Old King Cole is a frog, but only in this book." Or worse, ambiguous animal characters: "That's Jack and Jill. They are bears. Or porcupines. Or moles." It is still a great book, though!

14. Moo, Baa, La La La! (Board book), by Sandra Boynton. This is one of our favorite Sandra Boynton books, and one of the bookworm's favorite books overall. When we start reading it, we're always in for at least 3 or 4 read-throughs. The rhyming text is fun and clever, focusing on animals and their noises.


"A sheep says Baa./Three singing pigs say LA LA LA!/'No, No!' you say, that isn't right./The pigs say OINK all day and night."

Bookworm's interest at 12 months: All.

Note: Other Sandra Boynton books we love: 
Belly Button Book(mom loves; little guy not so much)

15. The B Book (Bright & Early Books) (Paperback), by Stan Berenstain. He has always liked this book, which involves an alliterative tale of a big brown bear, a blue bull, and a beautiful baboon, and various "B" activities. I'm impressed that he sits still for this at this age, when he gets bored with many other books of this size (like a number of Seuss ones). He loves bringing it to me now that he knows the "B" means "buh." If he's particularly squirmy, I don't repeat the whole tale each page, but just the new part. (Instead of "big brown bear, blue bull, beautiful baboon, biking backwards, etc.," for instance, I just add "biking backwards" on that page).


"Big brown bear, blue bull, beautiful baboon blowing bubbles biking backward..."

Bookworm's interest at 14 months: He prefers the less cluttered pages at the beginning of the book, but that will probably change as he ages.

Parent's Peeve: I just wish they made one of these for every letter. It would be a fun series. For all I know, they did, but I can't find it now.

Here are the titles that almost made the list:
My Truck is Stuck!(this is on our Christmas list)

If you're buying from Amazon, make sure to check out their 3 for 4 promotion right now (buy 3 qualifying books and get 1 free).  I also noticed that they had a deal for a free Dr. Seuss book when you buy any other two qualifying Dr. Seuss books.

What were your children's favorites books during the 12-24 month years?  Any favorites from this list?  Any of these your kids didn't like?

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Ivy said...

You hit so many good ones! Another favorite of my kids at that time was Time for Bed by Mem Fox and anything and everything by Sandra Boynton.

Infant Bibliophile said...

I don't think we've read anything by Mem Fox, Ivy. Definitely have to hunt some down! Thank you for the suggestion.

Raising a Happy Child said...

Lots of books on your list would have made ours as well. Ironically, Lemons Are Not Red is a big hit this week, and our daughter is over 3 now. We also liked Whose Mouse Are You? and other Mouse books by Robert Krauss. Corduroy would have definitely been on the list as well.

1stdaughter said...

My son is loving Brown Bear right now, but mainly because he is reading it in Spanish at preschool and with his dad at home.
As for favorites, Olivia would be right up there, but probably closer to his 2nd birthday.
If you have a chance stop by my new children's book review site:

maryanne said...

Wonderful list, including some that are new to me. "Lemons Are Not Red" is probably my husband's all-time favorite children's book. Another book my kids like at this age is Martin Waddell's "Owl Babies".